Teaching tip: Choose your words carefully

I detest the term “mental retardation” but it is (even today) the State’s preferred diagnostic label for people with intellectual disabilities, and this was not the time or place to fight that battle or potentially confuse my reader. I was also cautious about describing Ms. Long’s ethnic background for fear of being seen as culturally insensitive or even racist, but I decided that the more information I provided, the better chance I stood of impressing upon the guardian ad litem or judge the many, many indicators of the Longs’ inappropriateness to be Bryan’s adoptive parents.

In the concluding section of my letter, I laid claim to my (perhaps overstated) expertise as a special education teacher, and made a final attempt to grab the heart strings of Bryan’s guardian ad litem (or any human being that would listen).